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A Fowl Most Fair

The 15 minutes of that fat, stupid, ugly bird bred to have tits bigger than Dolly Parton's are almost upon us, so you may be reasonably wondering what else to do with the Thanksgiving turkey besides jamming it in the oven to slowly incinerate while consuming immoderate amounts of alcohol and watching the (Detroit) Lions being fed to the cheese-wearing interception monkeys (aka, Green Bay Packers) in a national orgy of mesomorphic voyeurism. 

Uh, Chinese takeout? 

Not a bad idea. But proceeding from the notion that on this blessed day of fueling up to battle the mobs for sweaters (Half Off!), computers (Deep Discounts!) and Christmas ornaments (Big, Big Savings!) on Black Friday a bird in the oven is worth all the greasy sweet 'n' sour pork in South Florida, consider dry-brining your T-Day fowl.


Well, yes. If you bother to read the glossy

food magazines or surf the web for turkey recipes, you've no doubt

heard countless exhortations to first wet-brine your bird before the

inevitable oven-jamming. This means finding a container somewhere

between the size of a 55-gallon oil drum and Olympic-sized swimming

pool, filling it with heavily salted water into which you submerge the

bird, then removing every stick of butter and sliver of cheese from

your refrigerator to fit the goddam thing in for two or three days

until ready to cook. The result will be a juicier than normal turkey,

also one likely to have disconcertingly mushy meat and skin flabbier

than Rex Ryan's jowls.  

Dry-brining, on the other hand, is

very much easier. It not only produces a bird with equally juicy and

tender flesh but one with skin so crisp it can slice your finger like a

razor. The idea of dry-brining a turkey, which is really nothing more

than pre-salting a bird for a couple-three days, evolved from the

wondrous roasted chicken served by chef Judy Rodgers at San Francisco's

iconic Zuni Café (where during my years in SF I consumed an immodest

number of these luscious, savory, golden-skinned creatures). 


guy who did all the necessary experimentation and adjusting is Russ

Parsons of the L.A. Times, who explains the chemistry and gives the

recipe here and here.

I've dry-brined my last several T-Day turkeys this way (plus more

chickens than I'd care to count) and the results are truly superlative.

Try it with your holiday turkey, then with chicken, and you'll never

roast a bird any other way. Besides, you didn't really want sweet 'n'

sour pork, anyway.

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Bill Citara

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